Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse - Prevention Strategies
Teens who don't use alcohol,
cigarettes, and other drugs are less likely to use them as adults. Efforts to
prevent teen substance abuse should begin early in life with education, encouragement of healthy behaviors, and good
self-esteem, a supportive family, and
positive role models help teens gain confidence to make good choices.
If you live in a high-risk neighborhood or your teen is at high risk for
an abuse problem, a community program can help your teen learn
skills to avoid substance abuse.
Even young school children have opinions about substance use. So start
early to help your child learn the skills needed to avoid substance use.
Be a role model, and stay connected
- Be a role model. As a
parent, your attitude toward alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs is one of the
greatest influences on whether your child will use substances. If you have a substance abuse problem, get
help. If you quit, your teen is more likely to get help early if he
or she starts abusing a substance.
- Share your beliefs. Even though they may not act like it, most children listen to what their parents tell them. Talk with your teen about the effects of substances on emotions, schoolwork, and health. If you have a family
history of abuse problems, talk with your teen about his or her
increased risk for the same problems.
- Stay connected. Know your teen's friends. Know where your teen is at
all times. Set times when the family is expected to be together, such as at
mealtimes. Plan family outings or other family fun activities.
- Be fair and consistent. Extremes of discipline can increase the risk of substance abuse. Set reasonable consequences for unacceptable
behavior, and consistently carry them out. Praise your teen for his or her
successes. Expect your teen to follow the household
rules. Use a
parent-teen contract to write down expected behaviors
and consequences if the plan is not followed.
- Encourage activities. Keep your teen
busy with meaningful activities, such as sports, church
programs, or other group involvement. Teens who feel good about themselves are
less likely to use alcohol and drugs.
- Get informed. Learn about the substances commonly abused by teens. Talk with a doctor. Find out how the drugs work, what their
street names are, and what the signs of being under the influence are.
Talk about personal and legal consequences
- Personal consequences. Explain that some behaviors, such as unsafe sex, can lead to consequences that
last a lifetime. Talk about how the use of substances while trying to develop
adult skills—graduating from high school, going to college, getting a job—can
affect your teen's future.
- Legal consequences. Remind your teen
that it is illegal for teens to use any substances. Talk about the increased risk of car crashes, violence, and
arrests because of substance use.